Firstly, the writer of this piece has developed from a mewling foetus into a prattling adult. Secondly, the growth of the Internet has been a runaway success and now currently permeates almost every aspect of our lives.
And finally, Boston alt-rock legends Pixies have gotten round to releasing their first album in 23 years.
The band’s reformation in 2004 allowed for some sporadic touring, but bassist and vocalist Kim Deal’s reluctance to head back to the studio clearly held back the production of any new material. With Deal’s departure from the band in June 2013, it was a mere two weeks before first single ‘Bagboy’ arrived on Pixies’ website as a free download.
Less than a year later, and after oddly sacking another bassist named Kim, ‘Indie Cindy’ is set to hit the shelves and online marketplaces on April 28th.
The album is a mixed bag containing both the bizarre brilliance that shaped Pixies’ earlier material and a more conventional sound that could well be an expression of the band’s maturity, or willingness to move a little more into the mainstream. ‘What Goes Boom’ is a heavy opener that contrasts a chugging guitar riff with intermittently softer vocal work. This sets the tone and demonstrates the quartet’s commitment to the loud/quiet switches that are ubiquitous in their early work. ‘Greens and Blues’ doesn’t carry itself quite as well, but features some great distorted wails from lead guitarist Joey Santiago.
The third and fourth tracks stand out as two of the strongest on the record. Francis Black’s distinctive voice yells, “You put the cock in cocktail man!”, before the wonderfully melodic chorus of title track ‘Indie Cindy’ and the album’s first single ‘Bagboy’ have him yelling, “I’m not feeling your buzz, I only smell your crock of stew!”, as a fitting accompaniment to a slick drum beat and thrashing guitar that builds to a chaotic climax. Using the spoken word in this way injects a sense of anarchic fun into both songs that fans of classic tracks such as ‘Bone Machine’ and ‘Hey’ might find comfortably familiar.
The album then becomes increasingly erratic. ‘Magdalena 318’ is a satisfyingly rhythmic affair about post-relationship bitterness, leading to the melancholy and surreal ‘Silver Snail’ and the strangely glam-rock influenced ‘Blue Eyed Hexe’. This gem stands proud with its cowbell, incredibly catchy guitar hook and excellent vocal work in the form of an elevated chorus and strikingly intense screaming in the final verse.
‘Ring The Bell’ is an uplifting antithesis to any anger or gloom found earlier, and although enjoyable, it sets the trend for ‘Another Toe In The Ocean’ – by far the weakest aspect of the album, an attempt at making something friendly and accessible to such a degree that the spark of madness that makes their work iconic is lost in a cheesy and flat three minutes.
‘Andro Queen’ pulls things back, the percussion marching along with some great use of layered Spanish and English vocals. Guitarist Santiago shines again on the penultimate ‘Snakes’, but they lose it somewhat on a rather dreary chorus. However, the album closes on the fuzzy and nostalgic ‘Jamie Bravo’, with elements of Sonic Youth and a charming, “Goodbye! Goodnight!” final farewell.
Avid Pixies fans will be aware that all the tracks on the album are already available to download as three separate EPs, all with staggeringly imaginative titles: ‘EP1‘, ‘EP2‘ and ‘EP3‘. Anyone bursting with urgency to experience the songs prior to the album release can seek these out at their leisure, but it’s worth mentioning that ‘Indie Cindy (Deluxe)’ features a second disc of superb live performances of old and new material from the band’s recent tour of the USA.
After such a long time away from the studio, it would appear that Pixies have not returned with quite the same potency that allowed them to influence bands such as Nirvana, but much of the record is delightfully synonymous with their early work.
Despite its flaws ‘Indie Cindy’ has some incredible moments that are essential listening for any devotee or curious newcomer to the alt-rock scene.